Thursday, 28 January 2010

It's not just four walls....

I was in Ahmedabad yesterday putting up the display of the ceramic show the line of fire, with the Lemongrasshopper team. To engage with designing a display of art in a space the fundamental rule is to work with the energy of the space itself and decide how to interpolate with it . This appears simple and basic, but so many shows are such a disaster to view because the space is never considered to possess a character that commands.

When I shared the idea with Sakshi of devising a "chapter" that showcased early works along with four recent paintings of Surendran Nair in his show titled Pernoctation and Early Drawings, I understood the unstated concern that many had that such a stark play off between time periods and linguistic styles may not resonate visual compatibility. That I also wanted to present a crowded salon style for the early works in conjunction with a minimal presentation of four large paintings appeared risky as a concept. But I was very clear that these two extremes would interplay and create a visual tension that would not destroy each other but instead make for an exquisite intensity and hold the spectrum of the intimate and the bold within a single grasp. My gut instinct proved right.

I was in fact talking with friends recently that the quality of display and presentation is an essential element of communication that can either sustain the strength of a work or dis-empower it's vitality. I believe that painters often fail to understand this essential factor when re-introducing their work for viewing outside of the studio space. Scale needs to be well comprehended too, when as painters we conceptualise a show. The Brooklyn Museum was a favourite of mine in the 90's when I lived briefly in New York. Well displayed exhibitions that understand how to enhance the curatorial key of a show can open it up to multiple dimensions that stun a viewer into reconsidering how to negotiate meanings within the work.

Some premiere Indian galleries have really come of age and do justice to presenting works where the "gallery space" transforms to become the "tongue" of the artist . It is such shows that I believe have the power to mesmerise. I also feel that artists need to re-enter working with curatorial ideas that involve themselves and other artists in public and private spaces. Such collaborations are often much more insightful and genuine.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rekha,

    Exhibition designing has become a profession in the West. Some of the Mumbai galleries hire some foreign experts to put up their show.

    Yet another set of curators display the works even on ceilings only to 'shock' the people.

    But I think, curators themselves should have an idea about the design of the exhibition. Curators should work with artists to develop a display strategy rather than leaving the responsibility of display to someone else's shoulders.

    Of course, the expertise of a professional is always welcome. For example, when a certain kind of computer involvement is needed, when electronics is involved and so on, the experts should be brought into play. Otherwise, the exhibition designer's job is to follow the curator's direction.

    Your Salone style of display in pernocation and old drawings at Sakshi (surendran nair), as you said, was a conscious effort towards a meaningful display. But I dont think there you were playing the role of an exhibition designer. On the contrary you were understanding the space as an artist-curator and reaching that style of display.

    I think curators need to develop an exhibiton display/design sense.